Analysing and rating City’s new signings for the 2013/14 season (so far)

Going into last summer’s transfer window, the usual marquee names were linked with City. Cavani. Falcao. Reus. You know the type. So it came as a surprise to many when City director of football Txiki Begiristain opted for slightly less glamorous signings, ones he felt would offer good value for money.

Half a season has passed since then and we’ve had chance to see all five of the new signings in action – some more than others. So how have they fared, taking their transfer fee and expectations into account? Here’s my view.

Jesús Navas
£14.9m from Sevilla

City’s first signing of the summer was speed merchant Navas, one of the few old fashioned wingers left in Spain. Navas had been supposed to join Chelsea when he was 20, but chronic homesickness killed the deal and kept him at Sevilla for years, despite interest from top clubs.

Having overcome his issues, Navas made the big move to Manchester, giving City a speedy and direct winger, something City fans had been pleading for but the type of player Mancini wasn’t too keen on in his system.

Navas made a hit-and-miss start, showing plenty of pace and trickery but delivering little in the way of assists and goals. His assist against United in September was his first in the league, but City career didn’t really explode into life until the 6-0 massacre of Spurs, where he put in a near flawless performance that included two goals and an assist.

Since the Spurs game, whether as a starter or off the bench, Navas has been in tremendous form. In his last four appearances, he has managed three assists and one goal. He has already matched his total number of assists for Sevilla last season, with half of this year’s campaign still to go.

It’s quite amusing really that Navas’ form is improving in the midst of a cold English winter. If any player fit the lazy stereotype of the foreigner who would struggle on cold winter nights in English football, it’s Navas. But he has gotten better as the weather has become chillier!

Navas has been a quality signing for City and offers a genuine “Plan B”, something we had been missing under Mancini. £14.9m for a World Cup and Euro winning Spain international looked a good deal on paper, and has been in reality.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Álvaro Negredo
£16.9m from Sevilla

The £16.9m signing of Spain international Negredo came as a disappointment to those who were expecting Edinson Cavani (£55m to PSG) or Radamel Falcao (£50m to Monaco), as they had were the marquee names on the market and both linked with City.

What some failed to realise is that Negredo had entered his prime in the season just gone and was outscoring many of the big names. His physical presence also made him an ideal match for the Premier League, moreso than his countryman Roberto Soldado who has looked half the player Negredo has in England, despite the two being on a similar level in La Liga.

Negredo isn’t a hard signing to judge – he has been a complete success and proven more than value for money. Goals have come frequently from “The Beast”, but just as important has been his overall contribution to the team and partnership with Aguero. For example, he didn’t score in September’s derby win over United, but was a nightmare for Vidic and Ferdinand, and notched up two assists. He has been a true “system” signing, someone who has slotted in like a well oiled cog.

The longest Negredo has gone without scoring is four games, and one of those was the aforementioned 4-1 win over United where his performance was phenomenal. Before his 35 minutes on the pitch against Palace at weekend, Negredo had scored in nine successive home games, something that has led to him already becoming a cult hero at the Etihad.

If there has been one flaw in Negredo’s first half-season, it is his lack of goals on the road compared to at home. Dzeko has been scoring more away from home, but Negredo’s lack of goals doesn’t mean he has played poorly. His assist for Milner against Fulham is an example of his contributions on the road.

At 28, Negredo is in the prime of his career and probably has 4 or 5 years left at this level. Should he be able to maintain the quality he has shown so far, £16.9m will be one of City’s greatest ever bargains. Cavani and Falcao – who needs them?

Rating: 9 out of 10

£30m from Shakhtar Donetsk

When Fernandinho become the third most expensive player in Manchester City history, behind only compatriot Robinho and modern day icon Aguero, eyebrows were raised. The obvious questions surfaced, such as how good could he be having played in the Ukraine until he was 28? How good could he be having only five caps for Brazil?

Anyone who saw Fernandinho light up the Champions League for Shakhtar last season knew the quality of the player. Up against Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus in the 2012/13 Champions League, he didn’t just hold his own against some of Europe’s top teams, but outshone many opposition players.

Fernandinho’s price tag worked against him in his early days as a City player, with some unfair criticism of him. He wasn’t perfect at first and was very prone to picking up yellow cards, but his performances weren’t as bad as some made out and in the games he was average in, his midfield partner (Yaya Toure) wasn’t any better.

His stellar performance in the Manchester derby, where he made United’s £27.5m signing Fellaini look like a pub league player, started to win the doubters over, but it was in the second half of October that his adjustment to English football seemed to end and he moved up a level.

Fernandinho has become not only one of City’s best players this season, but one of the Premier League’s best players. A good site for player performance stats, WhoScored, has him down as the 8th best player in the league so far this season, higher than any other summer signing in the Premier League.

Fernandinho combines what both De Jong and Barry brought to the team, but offers so much more, such as his ability to join in the attack. He played a box-to-box role at Shakhtar and has had to adapt to a more disciplined holding role at City, but more and more we’re seeing him surge forward and it’s a sight to behold, with the Brazilian’s creativity allowing him to pass between the lines and create chances.

One gripe about Fernandinho is, or was, his lack of goals. He’s wasted some good chances in front of goal, but his brace against Arsenal including one peach of a goal has started to remedy that.

A potential worry is that Fernandinho has spent many years in Ukraine, a slower league with fewer games. No player has started more games than Fernandinho (24 starts) this season and City run the risk of burning out the Brazilian in his first season experiencing the intensity of English football.

Many would rank Negredo as the signing of the season and there is a strong case for him, but I give the nod to Fernandinho. Partnered with Yaya Toure, he has moved City’s midfield up to the next level, something that has also benefited us in the Champions League.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Martín Demichelis
£3.5m from Atlético Madrid

City’s failed pursuit of Real Madrid’s Pepe led to a late scramble for defensive reinforcements in the summer window. They opted for the experienced Demichelis, who had been named in La Liga’s Team of the Year playing for Málaga under Pellegrini.

At 32 (now 33), Demichelis was obviously a short-term solution and the intention was likely for him to act mainly as a backup, as he would have at Atlético Madrid behind Godin and Miranda.

However, injuries to Kompany and Nastasić have meant Demichelis has played regularly for the Blues. Before his recent injury, he had completed 90 minutes in twelve successive Premier League and Champions League games, only being given the night off in a couple of Capital One Cup matches.

Demichelis hasn’t been a mega-hit signing like Negredo, Navas and Fernandinho. But neither has he been the disaster the faux pundit Alan Hansen would have you believe. At times he has struggled with the pace of English football and makes mistakes, but his reading of the game is impressive as is his forward thinking passing. He is also a threat in the opposition box from corners and free kicks.

Overall, he has been a solid signing, about what you’d expect from a 33-year-old who cost £3.5m. Having to play so many games at his age can’t have been easy with the ferocious pace of English football. He has adjusted to English football much better than £6m flop Stefan Savić did, and with so many injuries in central defence this season, has proven decent value for money.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Stevan Jovetić
£22m from Fiorentina

There is an unwritten rule in football that when you sign players in a bulk, at least one of them has to be a disaster. Jovetić would be the closest to that so far, but to call him a flop, misfit, disaster or any such moniker would be unfair. To receive such titles, you surely have to fail on the pitch, something Jovetić hasn’t even had the chance to do.

Of all the summer signings, the Montenegrin excited many City fans the most. A versatile and technically gifted attacker, Jovetić joined City on the back of an excellent season at Fiorentina. One, I might add, that was mostly uninterrupted by injuries.

His first half-season at City has been ruined by injuries, though. Bizarrely, some in the media are ignoring this and pretending he is some kind of misfit who just can’t get a game. This isn’t true, of course, and we have been left frustrated by the many setbacks keeping “Jo-Jo” out of the City team.

Jovetić has played just 187 minutes for City so far, in that time scoring a brace against Wigan in the Capital One Cup, a tantilizing preview of what we can expect. He was also outstanding in the summer friendly against AC Milan. And during one of his spells of fitness, he outshone Rooney in the “number 10” role in the World Cup qualifier between England and Montenegro.

Jovetić is now training again and seems very close to a return. Pellegrini has spoken of his hopes for Jovetić and City believe he can be like a brand new signing in January. Fingers crossed he can put his injury hell behind him and show us what he is capable of.

Rating: N/A

There is a lot of skepticism about the “Director of Football” model in England. Most top clubs outside of England have someone in this role, overseeing transfer policy and other areas of the club, but most previous attempts in England have failed badly – Damien Comolli’s £110m spending spree on mediocre English talent at Liverpool is the perfect example of that.

Txiki Begiristain’s work in the summer transfer window (and in other departments at the club) has proven that this model can work in England, as long as you have the right man in charge. And the former Barcelona chief has proven to be the right man.

Rather than go solely for the A-listers (besides Pepe, who Real Madrid wouldn’t sell because of Varane’s injury), he used his knowledge and City’s scouting network to acquire players who have proven to be fully compatible with the style of football City want to play, most of them at good prices.

City were also close to signing Isco from Málaga and chances are he too would have been a great signing, but the resurgence of Nasri means few are still disappointed about missing out on him.

There is nothing scattergun about City’s transfer policy anymore and these new signings have proven it. With the exception of Jovetić, who I’m very confident can be a great signing if he can just stay fit, all of them have contributed something, with Negredo, Navas and Fernandinho making this an undeniably successful group of signings.


The City Summary (December 29, 2013)

We’re exactly halfway through the Premier League season and City sit in second place, a very healthy position considering we dropped many points on the road and the players have been adjusting to Pellegrini’s style.


The second half of the season could be even tougher than the first, but the Blues look ready for any challenge. Fatigue and more injuries could be City’s worst enemies in the months to come.

City still have to visit the Emirates, Old Trafford, Anfield, White Hart Lane and Goodison Park while also focusing on other cup competitions including the Champions League double header against Barcelona.

January will put City’s improved away form to the test starting with a trip to Swansea – a ground where City haven’t won in two visits since the Welsh side were promoted. A much improved Newcastle from the one we battered 4-0 on the opening day is another away day on the horizon, as is Spurs who will want revenge for the hammering we gave them in November.

Just the one Premier League home game in January against Cardiff, which should be a routine victory unless their next manager has a magical effect. Outside of the Premier League is a trip to Blackburn in the FA Cup and the Capital One Cup semi final double header against West Ham. City should look to use their stellar home form and put the two-legged tie out of West Ham’s reach before the trip to Upton Park.

An exciting second half of the season awaits, that’s for sure!

January is near which means many transfer rumours. According to Simon Mullock of the Sunday Mirror, Pellegrini is happy with his squad despite City chiefs offering him money to spend. This contradicts some reliable sources who say City will be active in January.

Meanwhile, Goal is reporting today that Nemanja Matić of Benfica and Kurt Zouma of St. Etienne top City’s January wishlist, a list built around defensive players.

According to Goal, City are happy with their attacking talent and feel that Stevan Jovetić can be like a new signing if he stays fit.

The Zouma link isn’t new and we revealed in November that City had put an £11m offer on the table to his club. Chelsea have since made a superior offer, giving St. Etienne something to ponder, but City can compete for any player and could yet make an improved bid.

A bid for Matić featuring Garcia as a makeweight has already been reported by Sky Italia and today’s edition of The Sun has the same story – which could be old information or a sign of an improved part exchange offer in the making.

Matić has the right characteristics for the Premier League and is one of five midfielders profiled here as potential City recruits for the midfield. But like Zouma, he is fancied by Chelsea and there could be competition even if City step up their efforts.

Edin Dzeko, who has faced criticism from Shaun Goater in the last day, is being linked with yet another club.

This one has an added City-related twist with Corriere dello Sport reporting that AC Milan will move for Dzeko if they sell his former City team-mate Mario Balotelli.

Balotelli is again underperforming and not having a great season, leading to speculation he could be sold. CdS reckons Milan would use the funds to bid for Dzeko next summer.

Milan join rivals Inter, Borussia Dortmund and Valencia in being linked with Dzeko. Unless of a breathtaking offer, it seems unlikely that City will want to part ways with Dzeko in January.

Chidiebere Nwakali
As reported on Friday, City’s deal to sign U17 World Cup MVP Kelechi Iheanacho is close to collapsing.

No update on that one, but one of his team-mates from Nigeria’s U17 World Cup winning campaign is set to join City according to FCNaija.

17-year-old right-back Chidiebere Nwakali will fly to Manchester with his parents on January 2 to join City, hopefully with fewer complications than the Iheanacho deal.

Nwakali made 7 appearances in the U17 World Cup for Nigeria, scoring two goals. He is said to be a versatile player and switched between right-back, centre-back, defensive midfielder and attacking midfielder during the competition.

Earlier in December, a third member of the Nigeria U17 team, Chidera Ezeh, was said to be heading to Manchester for talks with the Blues after Liverpool also offered him a deal. There have been no updates on that, but it’s clear that City scouts were impressed by the Golden Eaglets!

Dzeko & Hyde – The Goat chimes in

Edin Dzeko has split opinion among City fans for the two years he has been at the club.

He is a prolific goal scorer and has dragged us out of some tough situations with crucial goals, none more important than the second against QPR on that famous day.

But despite a good goal return, many City fans are still unhappy with him. He often looks disinterested and can be anonymous for most of the game.

Top clubs are demanding more than “just” goals from their strikers now. Look at Mario Gomez, a goal machine at Bayern Munich, but who contributed little else and was sold to Fiorentina. It can be argued that Dzeko falls into this category.

The arrival of Negredo who is just as prolific in front of goal but works non-stop for the team and puts opposition defences under constant pressure has highlighted Dzeko’s flaws.

What is more frustrating is there are times when you can see just how good Dzeko can be. He didn’t score against Bayern Munich but led the line superbly, making himself a handful for Bayern’s defence. If he played with such vigor and intensity every week, there would be no complaints.

But again – Dzeko scores plenty of goals, a luxury many clubs don’t have with their third choice striker. He has 10 goals in 21 appearances this season, a number of them from the bench. So is the criticism unfair?

City cult hero Shaun Goater chimed in on BBC Radio Manchester yesterday, and was fairly critical of the Bosnian Diamond, but offered advice.

“Someone should put their arm around Edin and explain that the reason the fans don’t always get on with him is because his work rate needs to improve.

“In fact, you know what, I will go and tell him myself.

“In the early days I had similar problems with the City fans because they thought I was too laid back.

“But instead of taking it personally I was determined to rectify it and modelled myself on my team-mate Paul Dickov, who was the hardest-working player at the club.

“I followed him everywhere in training and it worked. In the old days a lot of us players attended supporters’ club meetings and took a lot of stick face-to-face, but at least we knew first-hand where the fans’ attitude towards us was coming from.”

Dzeko has a number of interested suitors across Europe and might flourish more in a team where he is the one-and-only, the centerpiece of the team as he was at Wolfsburg.

But with an attitude adjustment, there is no reason he still couldn’t be a huge part of City’s future. Pellegrini likes him, but will no doubt want more out of him after seeing glimpses of just how good he could be.

Q&D – Manchester City 1-0 Crystal Palace

Palace came to Manchester in typical Tony Pulis fashion – stubborn and very defensive, but decent on the break. Fair play to them because to attack us with their personnel would have been naive and they came closer to snatching a draw than most other teams.

The game was a frustrating one for City fans. Many chances were squandered and the tempo wasn’t great, but it’s worth remembering the gap between the grueling Liverpool match and today’s was one of the shortest in Premier League history. Those playing again will have suffered physically and the usage of fringe players means a drop in quality in some cases.

City had their chances to make this easier than it was, with a staggering 23 shots, but many of them were wasted.

It was a case of chipping away and trying to unlock a resilient Palace, who left very little space between defence and midfield. They also had some good chances, with the fantastic Joe Hart (sporting a nasty cut eye after a collision) making a couple of crucial saves.

The relief was obvious and a huge roar went up at the Etihad when the lively Jesus Navas notched up his second assist in two games, squaring the ball to Dzeko to fire home his 50th goal for City. Dzeko hadn’t been playing well at all, but in typical Dzeko & Hyde fashion he scored out of nowhere to win us the game.

Palace pushed for an equaliser but City stood strong and picked up a crucial 3 points in a turgid game. One of those you’re just happy to have over and done with.

City end December with 8 wins, 1 draw and 0 defeats in all competitions. If there is any justice in the world, Pellegrini will be handed his first Barclays Manager of the Month award soon.

January promises more challenges, including trips to Swansea, Newcastle and Spurs in the league. Not easy, but this City team has a strong mentality and are finally top of the league – until tomorrow at least.

Manchester City: Hart, Boyata (Negredo 55), Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy, Fernandinho (Nasri 55), Garcia, Navas, Silva, Milner (Kolarov 75), Dzeko
Subs not used: Pantilimon, Lescott, Toure, Rodwell
Goal: Dzeko 66

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Delaney, Parr, Puncheon, Ward, Jedinak, Bannan (Gayle 81), Bolasi (Williams 76), Jerome (Chamakh 35)
Subs not used: Campana, Phillips, Moxey, Price

Attendance: 47,151 (sold out)

TKA Man of the Match: Joe Hart

Stats courtesy of WhoScored:

City set to move for a midfielder… but who?

Manchester City's Yaya Touré and Fernandinho
There are two pieces of evidence that point to City signing a new central midfielder in January.

Exhibit 1: Transfer master Gianluca Di Marzio, who has come into his own as Europe’s most respected and reliable source for transfer news, reports that City have had a cash + Javi Garcia bid turned down for Benfica’s Nemanja Matić.

Exhibit 2: Respected football man Tor-Kristian Karlsen, formerly employed by Monaco, Zenit, Leverkusen and other clubs, claims that City are after a reputable midfielder (from outside of the Premier League).

City have two outstanding but overworked central midfielders, Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, and the large drop in quality when either is injured or rested continues to worry City fans.

Garcia works hard, but just can’t seem to get to grips with the English game. Rodwell is a promising player, but is regularly injured and after 1 1/2 seasons still can’t be relied on. Milner’s best position seems to be on the flanks – at least according to Mancini, Pellegrini, Capello and Hodgson.

City are set to sign Bruno Zuculini in the near future, a promising young Argentine, but he is said to be rough around the edges and a loan deal could be the starting point for his European adventure.

So it would come as no surprise if City are actively pursuing a new central midfielder of proven quality. But who could it be?

Combining market rumours from recent months and our own information, here are five possible signings from abroad City may be considering for January.

Nemanja Matić
Nemanja Matić (25, Benfica)

We start with the one City have already tried to acquire, at least according to Di Marzio. Nemanja Matić is a “Chelsea reject”, which has predictably led to the question: “So why would City want him?”. Well, that is simple enough to answer. Players improve! Matić was deemed expendable by Chelsea and thrown into the deal that saw David Luiz head to Stamford Bridge. Funnily enough, it was the sale of Garcia to City in the summer of 2012 that saw Matić given a chance to step up as a regular in the Benfica first team, and he impressed. The 6’4″ warrior has matured into a commanding presence, capable of winning duels both on the ground and in the air. But Matić is more than your typical midfield destroyer, possessing a good pass and the ability to attack. He seems a far more ideal fit for the Premier League than Garcia, and having already spent a couple of years at Chelsea would have few problems settling. His fellow Serbian internationals Kolarov and Nastasić are already at City, a detail that could help lure him to Manchester.

The chances?

As already mentioned, City are said to have made a bid of cash + Javi Garcia for Matić, but Benfica rejected the deal. City could go back with an improved offer, but there are potential complications such as Garcia’s wages and rival interest in the player. Chelsea are known to be keen on taking him back and Ramires said in a recent interview that he thinks they should sign him. PSG are also known to be interested and have spoken to the intermediary Jorge Mendes about a possible deal. Benfica are thought to have lowered their valuation of Matić recently and £25m should be enough to sign a player who is only in his mid-20s and has massive upside.

Blaise Matuidi
Blaise Matuidi (26, PSG)

City are known admirers of France midfielder Matuidi, who Carlo Ancelotti last year described as “one of the best midfielders in Europe”. Matuidi’s ability to read the game, much like Fernandinhos, is exceptional and also like the Brazilian he is a modern day midfielder with not only excellent defensive skills, but also the ability to contribute to attacking play. Matuidi’s passing and technical ability would also make him a good fit for City, the 26-year-old having a 91.3% pass accuracy in Ligue 1 and 94.1% pass accuracy in the Champions League so far this season. He would join fellow French internationals Nasri and Clichy at the Etihad Stadium if City could tempt him away from the French capital.

The chances?

Matuidi was expected to have renewed his PSG contract by now and still could in the next month, but if he doesn’t there will be a frantic race for his services from some of Europe’s top clubs. If contract talks with PSG continue to stall, Matuidi will be the bargain of next summer on a free transfer – unless someone can tempt PSG to part with their influential midfielder in January with a cash offer. A tough task with PSG still in the Champions League and top of Ligue 1. City, Chelsea and Barcelona are the three clubs most commonly linked with Matuidi, a clear sign of his talent. Everything depends on the outcome of his final contract talks with PSG, but if City could snatch him it would be a huge coup.

Xabi Alonso
Xabi Alonso (32, Real Madrid)

Alonso needs little introduction. A bona fide superstar of world football, Alonso has been in the spotlight for years at Liverpool, Real Madrid and of course for the Spanish national team, with whom he has won the World Cup and European Championship. Alonso is now 32 but remains a fantastic footballer with outstanding technique and one of the best passing ranges in European football. Alonso has very little pace, something that can be a problem in the Premier League (see: Garcia, Javi), but his intelligence and ability to read the game make said lack of pace a non-issue as already shown when he was one of the Premier League’s best midfielders for Liverpool. Alonso might not be a long-term option, though these deep-lying playmakers can go well into their 30s, but would add proven ability and experience to the squad while suiting City’s playing style.

The chances?

Much like Matuidi, a January move could be difficult but not necessarily impossible. He is another out of contract next summer and according to Marca today, he is leaning towards a Real Madrid exit despite a 2-year offer being on the table. Alonso may want a new challenge and an ambitious club like City could offer him the chance to continue playing at a high level while competing for trophies. Alonso’s financial demands are likely to be high, but any transfer fee in January would be fairly nominal due to his age and contract situation. If Real Madrid do agree to let him go in January, City would face competition from a host of clubs, but the Spanish connection and standing of the club would give them a good chance of landing El Señor.

Fernando (26, FC Porto)

Porto midfielder Fernando is the third player on this list who is down to 6 months left on his contract, something that has alerted clubs around Europe. City scouts are very active in this part of the world and will have noted his excellent performances this season for Porto. Nicknamed O Polvo (The Octopus) because he never stops running, Fernando is another tenacious holding midfielder who could help add some steel to a City side that often looks too open. He is a very industrious midfielder with excellent tackling ability, but also a clever player with a surprisingly good disciplinary record for a battling midfielder. His impressive season so far has led to a tug-of-war between his native Brazil and Portugal, who he is eligible for, with both wanting to call up the uncapped player.

The chances?

Fernando is the lowest profile of the names on this list, so he could be the easiest to acquire for City if they move for him. United were briefly linked with him in October, but Liverpool and Fiorentina have been more commonly linked with him recently. Porto are notoriously tough negotiators, but find themselves in a weakened position and are out of the Champions League. Fernando’s release clause is £25m, but with his contract up in June they will be lucky to command £10m for him. Given Porto’s regular need to sell, the chances of him leaving in January are very high, and one phone call from City could be enough for a deal.

Lassana Diarra
Lassana Diarra (28, Lokomotiv Moscow)

A name well known to Premier League fans, Lass Diarra has played for Arsenal, Chelsea and Portsmouth in the past. An excellent season for Portsmouth led to a £19m transfer to Real Madrid at the beginning of 2009, and he spent 3 1/2 years in the Spanish capital. Diarra was no flop at Real Madrid and played regularly, but the nature of that club means there is a high turnover of players and he was finally sold to wealthy Russian sides Anzhi last year. Anzhi’s cost-cutting led to a “first come, first serve” fire sale and Lokomotiv Moscow snapped him up in the summer. He has impressed at Lokomotiv, being named player of the month by fans in both November and December. This has led to speculation about his future with both City and former club Arsenal linked with him this month. At 28, Diarra should just about be in his prime and deserves a better platform than the Russian Premier League to showcase his skills. He is an all-action midfielder who is familiar with English football and would add more quality depth to City’s midfield. His versatility, which allows him to play at centre-back and right-back, is arguably something City need – a few more James Milner types who can play around the pitch when the squad is beset by injuries, as it has been lately.

The chances?

Let’s be honest, Diarra would probably jump at the chance to join City, so the real question is whether City genuinely want him or whether the reports from Russia are agent talk. Diarra has played at the highest level for top clubs (Arsenal, Chelsea, Real Madrid) so could be considered a low-risk signing for City. Monaco and PSG were thought to be keen on him before he moved to Moscow, but have probably moved on to other targets now. His transfer fee to Lokomotiv was thought to be in the £10m range, so assuming the Russians are willing to do business, this is the sort of offer that might land the 28-year-old.

These are just five possibilities and I’ve tried to keep it realistic. But who knows, it could be someone not on this list that City are after. City have been linked with the excellent Paul Pogba for example, but a £40m+ swoop for him in January might be out of the question and Juventus have no reason to part with him just yet.

Perhaps Txiki Begiristain will spring a surprise like he did when he opted for Negredo, Navas and Fernandinho over high profile names who had been linked with the Blues – signings that raised some eyebrows but have been masterstrokes. A diamond in the rough from La Liga, maybe? Time will tell, but any high quality midfielder would add crucial quality in depth to one of the few positions lacking it at City.

The City Summary (December 27, 2013)

Christmas is over but a fantastic month for City continued yesterday with our 2-1 win over Liverpool.

Football never sleeps so it’s time to wrap up events from recent days, starting with City’s injury situation going into tomorrow’s game against Palace.

Aguero, Jovetic, Micah and Demichelis all look set to miss the game through injury. The good news is that both Jovetic and Micah were doing fitness work on the Etihad pitch before yesterday’s game, meaning they can’t be far off returning.

Negredo limped off the pitch when replaced by Dzeko, but this is thought to be nothing serious, just a dead leg.

Zabaleta, who returned from a hamstring problem in record time, was also struggling at the end of the game, but this looked to be cramp rather than a recurrence.

Both Negredo and Zabaleta are expected to be rested tomorrow, begging the question of who will start at right-back again. Clichy struggled against Fulham and with Kolarov having started against Liverpool, may return to the left. Boyata could be given a chance, especially if Milner starts further forward.

Nastasic is back from injury and could start. With two games in 46 hours, Pellegrini is going to have to make changes, but some players will have to play again because it’s impossible to make 10 outfield changes in a league where even the strugglers can spring a surprise.

A win over Palace would complete one of the most stunning months in City history, which so far has seen 7 wins, 1 draw and 0 defeats despite a fixture pile-up and plethora of injuries.

Possible City team vs. Crystal Palace: Hart, Boyata, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy, Fernandinho, Garcia, Milner, Silva, Navas, Dzeko

Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure have been named in L’Equipe’s 2013 Team of the Year, the only two Premier League stars to feature in a team dominated by Bayern Munich players.

Bcf0yenCEAAJg2m.jpg large

Yaya is having one of the most productive seasons of his career so far.

Edin Dzeko has another suitor according to Marca in Spain, with Valencia set to move for the Bosnian should billionaire Peter Lim’s takeover go through smoothly.

Dzeko is reported to be top of Valencia’s wishlist with the new owner willing to spend around £40m in January, and their new financial power could allow them to meet Dzeko’s wages of around £130,000-a-week.

Pellegrini would prefer to keep Dzeko who he rates and still has plans for, but City’s dilemma is that his contract has only 18 months left now and his value is only going to drop.

But with Aguero currently injured and Jovetic still trying to get fit after a barrage of muscle injuries, City may refuse to sanction the sale of Dzeko in January.

Marca claims that Valencia have made contact already, while Inter and Borussia Dortmund may rival any offer for the striker.

City’s deal to sign U17 World Cup MVP Kelechi Iheanacho is on the verge of collapse over a financial dispute.

Iheanacho has already passed a medical in Madrid and signed a contract to join the Blues, but because of his age it can be torn up and that is exactly what could happen.

The 17-year-old and his family were “shocked” to learn that they would not receive any of their financial incentives until the Nigerian starlet turns 18.

City have agreed to pay his academy £300,000, the player £250,000, and his father £350,000, but reports suggest these bonuses would not be handed out until January 2015.

As a result of City’s stance, the player is now considering an alternative proposal from Portuguese giants FC Porto to join them.

City’s offer remains on the table, but Iheanacho and his family seem very money-driven and unless City budge on their stance they could miss out on the young forward.

Málaga sporting director Mario Husillos was in attendance at yesterday’s City vs. Liverpool clash and held talks with his friend Txiki Begiristain.

Málaga recently sold one of European football’s most exciting teen prospects, 14-year-old Brahim Abdelkader Diaz, to City, and Husillos is hoping for something in return.

A loan deal for John Guidetti appears to be Málaga’s main priority with Jovetic and Rodwell, two others Málaga like, unlikely to be made available.

According to the Daily Mail, City are pushing for a compensation fee of around £250,000 for midfielder Abdisalam Ibrahim, who has been told he can leave the club by Pellegrini.

22-year-old Ibrahim is out of contract next summer, but City hope to move him on in January according to the report.

Swansea, Everton, Southampton, QPR and Reading are among the English clubs rumoured to want him, but that is only a small selection of the clubs linked with the Norwegian.

City are exploring the possibility of another partner club in Europe, according to the Daily Mail.

City already have partnerships with 11 clubs in Europe and Africa, but are limited to Scandinavian clubs such as Strømsgodset when it comes to farming out youngsters from non-EU countries who can’t get a work permit.

So it would make sense if they struck a similar partnership with a club in a higher quality league, and the Mail reports that City are looking at Holland and Belgium for potential partnerships.

Not only would this give City a higher quality option for kids without work permits, but would allow them to send other youth players to a league of higher standard than the Swedish or Danish leagues.

The atmosphere was fantastic at last night’s game, but not only on the terraces! There was plenty of singing on the concourse, with the Zaba song quickly overtaking Kompany’s as the most popular song!

Dzeko given another chance to shine


Edin was actually poised to start against Liverpool, alongside The Beast, we’ve been led to believe.

But those early plans were redrawn following the muscle injury which Martin Demichelis suffered in training on Christmas Day.

We’re not sure how it panned-out in Pellegrini’s eventual thinking, but Dzeko has been told he is in line to start against Palace.

Negredo suffered a dead leg just prior to his substitution on Boxing Day and although it’s supposedly of little concern, was receiving intensive treatment following the final whistle.

With Jovetic currently playing the sick man of Europe, and Sergio stepping up the rehab on his calf injury, Dzeko can once again come to the fore with the “heavy goals” David Platt used to remark was his forte.